March 15, 2020

CEO of the Social Investment Business, Nick Temple, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their quest for impact and the various ways in which they support social enterprises and charities

The Social Investment Business (SIB) has been around for approximately 20 years.  From 2002 to 2010 they did £320m worth of investments into a whole range of organisations.  More recently, they’ve added grant-making and business support to their range of activities.


Their world has changed over the past 20 years, with many new players active in this field compared with just a handful that were active when they first launched.  Nick notes that this is a good thing – the space is more mature and there are a higher number of specialist funds out there and more support available that is better targeted and specialised, based on things such as geography and thematic areas of operation.


The Social Investment Business provides debt/loans, grants and business support – they always try to find the right blend. While, traditionally, most of their investments have been in the form of debt, more recently they’ve been doing grants, including grants for business support.


Nick sheds light on the nature of their various funds and the debt, grants and support they provide. He then proceeds to delve into the ‘Spectrum of Capital’ – from social investing and impact investing to ESG-integrated investing and traditional investing. [NB: ESG = Environmental, Social and Governance]


There is still much work to be done in terms of improving definitions in the world of social and impact investing.  There is also a healthy degree of scepticism when talking of impact investing: Nick referenced instances where ESG funds have simply been re-branded as 'impact funds', while in actual fact nothing had changed except for their name.  There’s a need for standards, and there is an obvious risk of ‘impact washing’ – as there was with ‘green washing’. Nick shares very useful insight on impact and how to interpret it.


Nick’s key takeaway: increasingly we’re thinking less about scaling individual organisations as part of what SIB does and more about scaling impact across the board. And so he thinks, increasingly as times are hard, people should be thinking about sustainable prosperity and strengthening organisations to make them resilient for whatever happens . He thinks that imposing scale on individual ventures and organisations may be something they look back on and slightly question why they had been doing that.


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